Château du Val d’Or: Vineyards

As I have already indicated, Château du Val d’Or sits on the very banks of the Dordogne; take a glance out of one of the south-facing windows in the chai and all you see are the brown waters of the Dordogne flowing past. It is of course a very fitting (and hardly coincidental) location when we remember that Philippe’s ancestors were heavily involved in ferrying goods along the river. Just a little more than a kilometre to the north-west lies Château Teyssier, whereas the limestone plateau of St Emilion lies about 6 kilometres directly to the north. There are 15 hectares to the estate all told, and as previously indicated the soils are dominated by sand (as is evident in the picture below). There is nothing surprising in the make-up of the vineyard, which is dominated by Merlot, at 80%, with 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The planting density ranges from 6000 to 8300 vines per hectare, and the vines average 35 years of age.

Château du Val d'Or

The viticultural philosophy is traditional, and does not follow any organic or biodynamic dogma. Having said that, on my most recent visit to the estate the rows between the vines were rich in natural greenery, so these are certainly not blitzed vineyards, Philippe being intent on minimising the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides. He is concerned for the health of his vines, and is working to encourage biodiversity both in the vineyard and surrounding area with increased planting of hedges, and he has also established bat boxes (which makes a change from insect hotels, like those at Château Guiraud, I suppose). This ideology comes through in Philippe’s membership of several environmentally active organisations, and his chairing of the Environmental Management System Association in the region.

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